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Patrick Springer, Published March 25 2013

BCBS, Sanford offer job fairs for unemployed PRACS workers

FARGO – There will be two job fairs this week for former PRACS employees who lost their jobs when the clinical research firm abruptly closed its doors last week.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota will host an all-day career fair today for PRACS employees at its corporate headquarters, 4510 13th Ave. S.

The health insurer has openings in areas including information technology, customer service, medical examiners, audit and finance, and marketing.

“We’re confident that we’ll be able to help many of these highly skilled professionals,” said Denise Kolpack, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s senior vice president of communications.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has about 40 openings, and its affiliate Noridian Administrative Services expects to hire about 200 Medicare claims processing positions this summer.

Another opportunity for the more than 300 out-of-work PRACS employees comes Wednesday, when Sanford Health will host a job fair from noon to 5 p.m. in its human resources offices at 406 Main Ave., the Wells Fargo Bank building.

Sanford is hiring registered nurses, medical laboratory technicians and phlebotomists among other medical professionals, said Booker Washington, a Sanford recruiter.

Sanford’s Fargo system has 264 openings, he said, low compared to the 500 or 600 openings typical during the summer.

Both Blue Cross Blue Shield and Sanford said the demise of PRACS Institute provides a rare hiring opportunity for them.

“It’s a great opportunity for Sanford,” Washington said. “There are a lot of professionals that would fight right in here.”

Managers will be on hand to interview applicants at Sanford’s job fair.

At the Blue Cross Blue Shield career fair, human resources staff members will greet job candidates and direct them to booths set up for job categories.

“We’re hoping for a good turnout and looking forward to talking to these people,” said Steve Rodvold, human resources director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

PRACS Institute, founded in Fargo in 1983, last Wednesday told employees their jobs were terminated. The company had been sold in 2006 and merged with other clinical research firms.

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition filed Friday, PRACS Institute listed assets of between $10 million and $50 million and liabilities ranging from $100 million to $500 million. A Chapter 7 filing seeks to liquidate assets.

PRACS’ 116,000-square-foot building at 4801 Amber Valley Parkway S. has an appraised value of almost $10.5 million.

Its location is near the new Sanford medical center under construction. Sanford executives are saying little about whether the PRACS building would be of interest.

“It really is premature due to the bankruptcy process but if/when it does become available we’d certainly evaluate the possibilities at that time,” said Dennis Millirons, president of the Sanford Fargo Medical Center.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522